Family Mediation Services, Inc.

David S. Goldberg, Esq. - Mediator

421 Tschiffely Square Road

Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878-5758

Tel: 301-947-0500

Fax: 301-947-0501







The Symposium which developed the Standards included representatives from Academy of Family Mediators (AFM), Association of Family Courts and Community Professionals (AFCC), American Bar Association (ABA) Family Section, and other national, state and regional organizations. The Standards represented a consensus of the best suggestions made over a period of two years in which the Symposium met to develop them. The Standards had previously been adopted by the ABA Family Section and by AFCC, as well as several state mediation organizations. The adoption of these standards by ACR rounds out the trio of major national organizations whose members are family and divorce mediators.

The General Standards

A family mediator shall recognize that mediation is based on the principle of self-determination by the participants.

A family mediator shall be qualified by education and training to undertake the mediation.

A family mediator shall facilitate the participants' understanding of what mediation is and assess their capacity to mediate before the participants reach an agreement to mediate.

A family mediator shall conduct the mediation process in an impartial manner. A family mediator shall disclose all actual and potential grounds of bias and conflicts of interest reasonably known to the mediator. The participants shall be free to retain the mediator by an informed, written waiver of the conflict of interest. However, if a bias or conflict of interest clearly impairs a mediator's impartiality, the mediator shall withdraw
regardless of the express agreement of the participants.

A family mediator shall fully disclose and explain the basis of any compensation, fees and charges to the participants.

A family mediator shall structure the mediation process so that the participants make decisions based on sufficient information and knowledge.

A family mediator shall maintain the confidentiality of all information acquired in the mediation process, unless the mediator is permitted or required to reveal the information by law or agreement of the participants.

A family mediator shall assist participants in determining how to promote the best interests of children.

A family mediator shall recognize a family situation involving child abuse or neglect and take appropriate steps to shape the mediation process accordingly.

A family mediator shall recognize a family situation involving domestic abuse and take appropriate steps to shape the mediation process accordingly.

A family mediator shall suspend or terminate the mediation process when the mediator reasonably believes that a participant is unable to effectively participate or for other compelling reason.

A family mediator shall be truthful in the advertisement and solicitation for mediation.

A family mediator shall acquire and maintain professional competence in mediation.

Overview and Definitions
Family and divorce mediation ("family mediation" or "mediation") is a process in which a mediator, an impartial third party, facilitates the resolution of family disputes by promoting the participants' voluntary agreement. The family mediator assists communication, encourages understanding and focuses the participants on their individual and common interests. The family mediator works with the participants to explore options, make decisions and reach their own agreements.

Family mediation is not a substitute for the need for family members to obtain independent legal advice or counseling or therapy. Nor is it appropriate for all families. However, experience has established that family mediation is a valuable option for many families because it can increase the self-determination of participants and their ability to communicate, promote the best interests of children, and reduce the economic and emotional costs associated with the resolution of family disputes.

Effective mediation requires that the family mediator be qualified by training, experience and temperament; that the mediator be impartial; that the participants reach their decisions voluntarily; that their decisions be based on sufficient factual data; that the mediator be aware of the impact of culture and diversity; and that the best interests of children be taken into account. Further, the mediator should also be prepared to identify families whose history includes domestic abuse or child abuse.

These Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation ("Model Standards") aim to perform three major functions:

1. to serve as a guide for the conduct of family mediators;
2. to inform the mediating participants of what they can expect; and
3. to promote public confidence in mediation as a process for resolving family disputes.

The Model Standards are aspirational in character. They describe good practices for family mediators. They are not intended to create legal rules or standards of liability. The Model Standards include different levels of guidance: Use of the term "may" in a Standard is the lowest strength of guidance and indicates a practice that the family mediator should consider adopting but which can be deviated from in the exercise of good professional judgment. Most of the Standards employ the term "should" which indicates that the practice described in the Standard is highly desirable and should be departed from only with very strong reason. The rarer use of the term "shall" in a Standard is a higher level of guidance to the family mediator, indicating that the mediator should not have discretion to depart from the practice described.

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